Today I'm going to take time out to defend a science-fiction film from 1980 that attracted way more flack than it deserves, Saturn 3. Critics love knocking this film but I've got to say that it's been a firm favourite of mine since I was a kid, and as I've gotten older it's only made me appreciate it more. And not just because of this.
Look at those teeth, they're amazing. The project was originally to be directed by John Barry who was the Production Designer on Star Wars. He fell out with Kirk Douglas at the start of the production and it got him kicked off the project. The film was designed to cash in on the success of Alien and managed to completely cock it up. Farrah Fawcett was brought in by the producers to sex things up and she was originally meant to be wearing revealing spacebabe Barbarella type costumes right through the film. A bit of this was kept in for her final costume change as she leaves the spacebase and heads back to earth but overall the replacement director (Stanley Donon) was more aware of the subtleties of Alien's success and tried to steer the film away from this easy exploitation sexy-route. This ended up in the film sending somewhat mixed messages as the part was still written for what is essentially a female vulnerable innocent-victim type role. A quick compare and contrast with this character's development compared to Sigourney Weaver's Ripley in Alien and you'll see what I'm talking about.
If you're a fan of sci-fi and haven't seen Saturn 3, get on Amazon and grab a copy right now. It's the perfect blend of B-movie and big budget where a story that could be an episode of the Twilight Zone gets the expensive treatment, some quite out-there design work and a quality cast of big name actors.
When I started to write this post I thought I'd post a few pictures of Farrah Fawcett and bang on a bit about how she's fantastic in this movie as a sci-fi trustafarian who's futuristic version of going travelling has her working as a scientific assistant/bang maid on a remote moonbase around Saturn. But then I felt I had to point out the gorgeous production design too. Seriously, straight out of Metal Hurlant.
You could look at this film superficially and see it as a robot gone mental chasing Farrah Fawcett around a moonbase trying to get it on with her and killing everybody that gets in it's way. Or, you could see through that into brilliance of this film and see that is in fact a story about a robot gone mental chasing Farrah Fawcett around a moonbase trying to get it on with her and killing everybody that gets in it's way.
Although I'm really fond of this film, I'm not that into the design of Hector. I always thought he looked a bit messy and confusing. I know he's a prototype but the shambolic look of the engineering coupled with his reflective surfaces just looses the shape and it's hard to see what he actually is. So that's why the UK Saturn 3 poster is further down my scale than the foreign releases. As usual, foreign posters win. Especially the Japanese poster down the bottom.
This is the Polish poster. What. The Fuck.
Here's a taster of the original sort of thing that was intended for Farrah Fawcett's futuristic wardrobe.
Have a look directly under FF's arse here and the more observant of you might recognise what looks very much like an Apperture Science's companion cube.
Here's the trailer in all it's old-fashioned 80s trailer-narrated B-movie glory. Robots chasing girls around a moonbase. Quality.